Malaysian stakeholders discuss ways to curb wildlife trafficking through mail
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, 28th August 2020—Pythons, lizards and pangolin scales in the mail? Stakeholders from a variety of agencies in Malaysia came together recently to discuss the misuse of postal services to traffic wildlife internationally and how it can be curbed. In a four-part online workshop jointly hosted by Pos Malaysia and TRAFFIC, close to 50 participants reviewed the current flows of inbound and outbound international mail and explored ways in which gaps could be closed to prevent illegal traders from abusing postal facilities.
The meeting was part of the Out of the Box: Removing the Risk of Wildlife Smuggling from Malaysia’s International Mail Service project which is funded by the United States Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).
The project was conceived to increase co-ordination between the country’s main postal services provider, Pos Malaysia, and regulatory agencies, as well as improve interdiction of wildlife products trafficked through international mail in Malaysia.
The meeting focused on procedures at the Pos Malaysia International Hub (PMIH) which acts as the international gateway for all inbound and outbound air and sea mail, parcels and express mail. In 2018, this hub handled 9.6 million kg of international mail and parcels.
The centre has seen a number of cases of wildlife in international mail and parcels, the most significant involving a seizure of 13 boxes of pangolin scales in November 2017 by the Royal Malaysian Customs that had originated from two locations in Malaysia and were all destined for the same address in Hong Kong.
We believe Pos Malaysia, particularly the PMIH, has a key role to play in fighting wildlife trafficking as an intermediary in the trade of packages containing highly threatened illegal wildlife. We’re very encouraged by their enthusiasm and participation in the project.
Project lead and TRAFFIC Training and Capacity Building Co-ordinator, Claire Beastall.
Participation came mainly from key representatives from PMIH security and operation teams, its processing centre and Pos Malaysia representatives across various states in Malaysia. Also present were officers from the Malaysian Communications & Multimedia Commission, the Ministry of Communications & Multimedia, the Ministry of Energy & Natural Resources, Royal Malaysian Customs, the Department of Wildlife & National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (PERHILITAN), Malaysian Quarantine & Inspection Services (MAQIS), Auxiliary Police, Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia.
TRAFFIC Director for Southeast Asia Kanitha Krishnasamy kicked off the workshop with a scene-setting presentation on wildlife trade in the region. Representatives from MCMC, PERHILITAN, MAQIS, RMC and Pos Malaysia presented information on their agency’s current efforts on tackling wildlife crime in Malaysia’s international postal service.
All participants took part in breakout groups resulting in several suggestions for methods to address challenges in the mail system. This included ways to capture more information from the sender at the point where mail is first accepted by Pos Malaysia and the use of additional resources to detect wildlife which does arrive at the PMIH such as wildlife detector dogs.
The project will also seek to provide information to Pos Malaysia staff on wildlife trafficking in international mail through training and awareness raising activities.